Fighting back

In a recent post I suggested that headteachers might be so incensed by Gove’s decree on so-called ‘early entry’ that they might decide, in the interests of their pupils, to ignore him, enter pupils as many times as they saw fit and, crucially, publish their own exam stats based on children’s best results rather than, as Gove has decided, the DfE ‘Raise-Online’ stats based only on the ‘first attempt’. Evidence is now emerging that not only will many heads do this, but that, most importantly, they will have at least the tacit support of OFSTED in doing so.

I’ve been privileged, through my contacts in education, to have seen a confidential document from an OFSTED inspector on this matter. As I am sworn not to quote, I must paraphrase as follows:

OFSTED inspectors, it appears, are unhappy with Gove and what he has done. He didn’t consult them and, if he really is concerned about schools suppressing student achievement through ‘early entry’, OFSTED inspectors are sufficiently on the ball to pick this up and to use the 3 and 4 levels of progress measure to bear down on schools who have misused early entry in this way. The inspector recognises that pulling the November entry at the last minute, as heads were being urged to do, would undermine the confidence of students – as a former head, this inspector recognises also that heads have a moral duty to do the best for their students: it isn’t just about maximising exam results for the school. The inspector goes on to say that inspectors s/he works with will be interested to look at the real results the schools will have as well as the bogus ones which will appear on the government’s Raise-Online.

This is really dynamite and, although I understand the reluctance of this particular inspector to ‘go public’, it’s a great pity they did not. Gove is beginning to be under pressure from powerful and influential people in education for his constant and inconsistent meddling in the examination system and, it has to be remembered, he cannot bring about any reforms unless those ‘on the ground’ acquiesce. The only threat Gove can use is that, if a school’s results fall below a certain level (the so-called ‘floor’), OFSTED can judge the school inadequate. However, it is clear from the above that inspectors will be very reluctant to do this if the unofficial (ie real) results are ok and it’s the official results only that fall below floor.

By the way, I appear to have reached a milestone 100th post to this blog in less than 11 months. Coincidentally, I happened yesterday to run into Alan from the WEA who taught me all my blogging skills so, many thanks to him and to you out there for sticking with me. I’m sure I will have plenty more to say in the coming months!

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